Monday, July 6, 2009

Cretan Moped Excursion

My logical mind that likes order, my Presbyterian upbringing that makes me prone to sober reflection, taking things seriously . . . These aspects of my personality would have me believe that travel from point A to point B on the island of Crete would actually correspond to kilometers measured on a map. I am here to tell you: the one has nothing to do with the other. In July 2002, my husband and I honeymooned at the resort-heavy town of Elounda, a small dot in the northwest sector of the island. As it turned out, many of the things I wanted to see were at the opposite end of Crete. It didn't matter. We were adventurous, newly married, two for the road—on my husband's preferred mode of transportation, a motorcycle. Correction: it was not a motorcycle we rented but some kind of moped that had seen better days, but was serviceable. It put-putted along, my husband driving and I clinging to the back. I don't remember where we were headed for the first leg of our day trip, but we looked at the map and calculated the distance, and completely ignored the way the thin red line squiggled back and forth in serpentine folly. Or we saw it, but knew then that we were taking the most scenic route before hitting more major roads, and we had no appointments to keep. Indeed. It was lovely, that road we took out of Elounda. I remember going up into the mountains, making sharp turns and leaning into the curves together; we'd come around a bend and be awash in the smell of wild thyme, the sight of blooming, prickly pants. And then there'd be another bend, and another. Used to speed, my confident-biker husband had to slow himself down considerably. It didn't take long to figure out that distance on a map is like measuring travel by a crow's wing, no basis in human reality. Though the route was not long in kilometers, it was much longer in time. Space-time relationships as we knew them did not apply while in Greece. Marveling at how long it was taking us, we realized also that our itinerary for the day was in jeopardy from the get-go. Still, we pushed on westward, stopping for iced frappes and to stretch our legs in Heraklion, in Rethymnon, and eventually we ended up all the way in Chania, a good 200 kilometers from where we began that morning. Because this post is not a memory of sightseeing, not a memory of the gorgeous sea views, the fabulous cuisine (Tamam in Chania, in an old Turkish bath house, was excellent when we were there), I will end the musing on Cretan Moped transportation by saying that we did our best to drive straight back before it got too late, on the major road that bisects the island laterally. I will also admit that I was near tears halfway back, so sore was my backside from banging around on the purgatorial seat, so tired and cranky was I from burning my bare leg on the exhaust pipe. The next day, I remember making my first wifely demand: that we stay put, do nothing but lie on the beach and leave the cursed moped right where it was. Did we? I think we did—at least for the next morning.


  1. Maria, this post's a nod in your direction, of course! Next time, I'll know better... and certainly wouldn't dream of coming to Chania without contacting you first!

  2. you biked from one side of the island to the other???!!! now that feels sore just thinking about it!!!!!!!!!!!